School grades don’t include homeschoolers

Your article on grading area schools was very enlightening and well done. However, I think one important aspect of our students’ education was not measured. That is, homeschooling. How do we grade the overall performance of our homeschool segment which must number in the many hundreds or more? It would be very difficult to do, I’m sure, but it would be interesting to know how those who do not attend our public schools compare with those who do. I’m led to believe they do quite well.

Congrats on your move to new digs. I hope this indicates a bright future for you and The Independent.

Don Holle, Edgewood

 

On choosing board members for Solid Waste Authority

Bill Williams commented that county members of the Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority were unfairly chosen because they all resided in one district (“Former board member on solid waste authority,” July 27 – Aug. 3). In the last six years, there have been times when all three county representatives on EVSWA lived near Moriarty. Bill Williams raised, as far as I know, no objection. He also had no objection to members on the board representing municipalities who lived 45 or so miles from the municipality they represented, including himself. The justification was simple, each municipality or county is free to choose whoever they feel best represents them, no matter what area in or near the county served by the authority. Has he had a change of heart, or is his present position just an excuse because he disagrees with county’s choices?

On closer look the area not within the designated municipalities is about half the population. Why doesn’t the county have more representatives? The counter argument is by volume the municipalities generate more waste. On the other hand Encino, population less than 100, has a representative. Even serving the population nearby, Encino appears over represented. I will agree Encino does create a problem. I would guess it had a larger population when the EVSWA was created and the unincorporated areas less population. Of course as population demographic goes, exact representation by population or even waste generated is perhaps impossible. Still, would it not be fair to allow the county more representatives on the EVSWA board?

Michael Godey, Estancia

 

Candidate: Government should look out for little guy

As we approach Labor Day, the recent incident in California, where Verizon intentionally cut data speeds for firefighters working on the front lines of the forest fires, needs our attention. That fact that Verizon, using technology that allowed for the arbitrary cutting of rates, perhaps without human intervention, is a good example of why government, and in particular agencies like the Public Regulation Commission, are important. That we had working men and women, fighting literally hand to hand combat to save people and property, who had their job made more difficult for corporate gain is simply unbelievable.

Corporations have goals that are clear: maximize profit at all costs. Yet, they also need a counterbalance. Individuals that are depending on Verizon for communications are powerless individually against these large corporations. The need for an agency like PRC to provide a stabilizing influence is essential. We cannot simply decry profit at corporations, their very existence is for profit. What we have always had in this country is a government that was set up to watch out for everyone. We have seen in recent decades a lean towards corporations, perhaps do to a lack of active participation by voters. Whatever the reason, I believe that the PRC can use their mission to provide a counterbalance. We cannot simply let entities have free reign over all aspects of society. We need government to watch out for the people who cannot watch out for themselves.

Technology has made huge leaps in innovation in the last few decades. Government has to keep up. The ability of corporations to make choices about how and when to provide service, either with individuals, or with whole towns, needs to be monitored closely. Phone service, internet access, good quality, stable, affordable, electric service needs to be applied equally. Sometimes government needs to be the entity that assures equal access. That is what I see as my role at the Public Regulation Commission. We have to make sure that technological advances benefit everyone, not just the areas that have political clout. Small towns and more remote areas in New Mexico have every right to benefit from technology.

Labor Day was established to celebrate the role of organizing in the country. This Labor Day, we also need to show and support the role of government agencies to watch out for the little guy. Good access is essential in a world where that access means good jobs, and a higher standard of living. We need to work at that, and use all available tools. That includes electing officials who understand these technologies, and who are willing to use government to ensure equal access. That is what I believe, and if you give me your vote in November, I will fight for you.

Kevin Sanders, Candidate for PRC, District 2

 

Elements of journalism and ‘fake news’

In response to the “Editorial: Journalism is critical to democracy” (Aug. 17-23, 2018), I must admit that it raised my eyebrows a little. I believe in the several elements of journalism described in the editorial: “… our first loyalty [of journalisms] is to you [the reader].” “Our work is guided by a set of principles that demand objectivity, independence, open-mindedness and pursuit of truth …”

The AMERICANPRESS Institute states 10 outstanding elements of journalism not unlike those incorporated in the editorial. The first three are as follows. 1. “Journalism’s first obligation is the truth.” 2. “Its first loyalty is to citizens.” 3. “Its essence is a discipline of verification.” Personally, I find the first and third elements of journalism lacking in much of today’s political journalism. The discrepancy between these elements of journalism and what is reported is alarming to me. Of course, every journalist has views on a story. That is the way we are. A ‘view’ can easily become an ‘agenda.’ An agenda can easily affect or bias the news instead of simply reporting it. When that happens, my eyebrows raise and I begin to lose confidence in that news source.

Here are two examples violating the first and third elements of journalism that that seems to endlessly perpetuate itself and is one reason journalism may be losing the confidence of its readers. Informed readers know that the President has made it clear on several occasions, the real enemy of the people is ‘false’ information (i.e. fake news). When a journalist changes the narrative, which is an unacceptable violation of journalism, the news lowers itself to a form of propaganda. Bad journalism.

Good journalism is a recent CBS story. Kathryn Watson reported a story to CBS NEWS (Aug. 2, 2018, 5:30 p.m.) stating that “President Trump on Thursday clarified that not all members of the media are the ‘enemy of the people,’ just the ‘fake news,’ which is a large percentage of the media.” It seemed to me that Ms. Watson accurately reported the news and thus honored her commitment to journalism.

A second major trap that too many journalists fall into deals with the controversial subject of immigration. Immigration is not all one group. Actually there are three groups. Citizen immigrants are not the same as undocumented immigrants. And there is a significant difference between peaceful undocumented immigrants and the criminal elements of undocumented immigrants. Discernment is needed here to recognize there are different groups. I find that this ability to accurately assess situations in general is lacking in all but very astute journalists. Maybe the all-one-group journalists can benefit by the use of Venn diagrams to help separate the groups. I see that some in the press likes to meld these three groups together and do not recognize their differences. Possibility those few are unable to think outside the box. The President has made it clear that his objection is specifically directed to the small group of ‘criminal elements of undocumented immigrants.’ I personally have heard the president on several occasions narrow his concern only to the criminal element of undocumented immigrants. To say the president is against all immigrants simply misrepresents the facts and those journalists need to be called out. They may need a refresher class on the elements of journalism.

In conclusion, I believe the public is best served when they hear accurate news reporting. What is sad is when journalist fail to police their own. It gives the impression to readers that individual news organizations are not independent from each other. When there is no self-policing of the media, collusion between the organizations can creep in. When collusion happens, independent journalism dies. I believe the 10 element of journalism make great journalists. I wish all journalist would diligently follow them. This is critical to democracy.

Boyd Reasor, Edgewood

The editor responds:

“Collusion” is secret or illegal cooperation among those who appear to be in opposition to each other. In the case of this and similar editorials being run in hundreds of newspapers across the country, the word does not apply, in our opinion. Publication of the editorials was a coordinated action among newspapers to bring attention to what many of us feel is a threat to our democracy itself.

The elements of good journalism are to get the facts right, to ask questions those in power would rather not be asked, and to provide as many sides of the story as possible. Bias is impossible to eliminate, but it’s entirely possible (and not very difficult) to be inclusive and fair, and to give interested parties to a story the opportunity to be heard.

Television news in particular seems very attached to a format in which “experts” tell us what the news means, rather than simply relaying the facts and implications of a story. There is a place for opinion in a news outlet, like this forum page. But as consumers of news, many people are fed up with a format that tells us what to think.

We know the television format tells us what to think because there are reports on the same story that are presented in a way that makes one major political party the good guy, and the other major political party the bad guy—and we can tell which political team that news outlet is on. I agree, Mr. Reasor, that is bad journalism.

There is room for improvement at every single news outlet, including this one. The major failure of The Independent is in not reporting on many important stories due to our very small staff. We are working on improving that every single day, and no one feels that lack of coverage more keenly than I do. We can always improve. Still, when the president of the nation refers to a news outlet like CNN or the New York Times as “fake news,” that is a dangerous path to tread, and I stand by my editorial decision to join my fellow editors in speaking up for my profession.

We at The Independent also welcome a robust discussion on the role of news media in democracy, in being an active part of our local economy, and of building community. Thank you for taking the time to send us your views.

-Leota Harriman

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